Parental Rights Still Under Attack

Last week THSC sponsored its annual Southwest Convention & Family Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. As always, it was a marvelous time of inspiration, encouragement, and equipping of home school parents, children, and teens for the coming year. We had a record crowd of almost 6,400 people.

What was interesting this year is that we had protestors. Yes, I know, it boggles the mind. One of our keynote speakers was Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, who did several workshops on creationism. This was the outrageous issue that prompted an online group of atheists to host webinars and blogs and decide to protest the teaching of what they called “lies” to children.

In fact, these people argued that home school parents should not be allowed to teach such things to their children. In response, I released a statement to the press: “While we find it unfortunate that a group of self-professed atheists have decided to protest the THSC Conference, it is not unusual for statists to argue that parents should not be free to teach what they choose to their children. . . . We believe that parents in the United States have a fundamental, constitutional right to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children, and that includes being able to teach them what the parents believe is appropriate. THSC has been battling for over 25 years to allow every parent to make these decisions for their children and we will continue to do so even in the face of those who argue that parental rights should be restricted.”

Read what Ken Ham had to say about the event and the protestors. The bottom line is that it is amazing to see that more and more people argue that fit parents should not be able to make certain decisions for their children.

In fact, yesterday I read an editorial in the Washington Post that argued Virginia’s religious exemption to home school was too broad and that the right of parents to direct the education of their children was in conflict with a “child’s right to an education.” The editorial was prompted by a young man who argued that he had been deprived of an education while being home schooled by his parents.

This deprived young man lost his battle to gain entry to high school as a 21-year-old but went to community college instead and is now a student at Georgetown University. It doesn’t sound like he was deprived if he could do work at the community college level and gain entry to college. It makes me wonder if the Washington Post should do an editorial on the public high school students who are deprived of an education when they graduate from high school and are functionally illiterate. That, of course, will not happen because the state controls the public education system, not parents, and it seems clear that the Washington Post, like the atheist protestors at our conference, really have a problem with allowing parents to make decisions for their children.

Comments

  1. Jim Loose says

    Heartbreaking stories like Tim describes would shock the conscience if they were one-off situations. When they occur regularly, patterns become visible that make thoughtful people uneasy that something larger may be playing out in such stories.

    Former New York public school teacher of the year, John Gotto, has written a book that says something much larger is playing out. I wish every American would read it and then consider what his or her conscience requires in response. If Mr. Gotto is not being deceitful and is drawing reasonable conclusions from his evidence, the problem with schooling is a symptom of some covert, ugly, and dangerous politics from origins we conservatives do not generally think about when we think about sources of our nation’s political ills.

    You can read the book online and decide for yourself. The author is a passionate, amusing, very talented writer … with a deadly purpose: to point out the deadly purpose being followed by schools and other large American institutions. Here is the web address: http://mhkeehn.tripod.com/ughoae.pdf

  2. Name Withheld says

    Possibly, you might consider that not all homeschoolers are religious. Some believe in “God”, some dont, and some in something in between.

    My wife and I are members of THSC but really dont care for the Christian slant on everything. What is the MAIN purpose of THSC? Is it to advocate for Texas Homeschool Rights, or to further Christian beliefs?

    Educating our children is a fundamental right of parents, religious belief is a choice. By the name alone, one would think your purpose was to help protect the right of educating our children, Christian or not.

    While we can appreciate the good things THSC has done for parents rights in Texas, being constantly reminded by every article on your site that we are the minority, has led us to reconsider our affiliation.

    • Tim Lambert says

      We know that not all home schoolers are religious, but I must point out that religious freedom is also a fundamental right, not just a “choice.” However, these people ARE self professed atheists and are advocating the state control what a parent could teach their children.

      Look again at my statement, “”While we find it unfortunate that a group of self-professed atheists have decided to protest the THSC Conference, it is not unusual for statists to argue that parents should not be free to teach what they choose to their children. . . . We believe that parents in the United States have a fundamental, constitutional right to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children, and that includes being able to teach them what the parents believe is appropriate. THSC has been battling for over 25 years to allow every parent to make these decisions for their children and we will continue to do so even in the face of those who argue that parental rights should be restricted.”

      I also responded to an atheist on FB who pointed out that while he was an atheist and an evolutionist he disagreed with these protestors because what they advocated would hurt ALL parents by allowing the state to determine what parents could and could not teach. He said he hope they failed and we would keep supporting Christian home schoolers. Note my response to him and correction that we defend ALL home schoolers without regard to their religious beliefs. That being said, I’m sorry that you don’t like our “Christian slant on everything” but that is who we are, but it won’t matter if you’re in trouble and need our help…we’ll be there for you.

      Here is my response mentioned above:

      “I wholeheartedly agree with your position that it is the parents who should be able to choose what a child is taught. That is obviously not the case in public schools and more so in private schools, but home schools are directed by the parents. THSC strongly believes that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to direct the care, control and upbringing of their children and that includes educational decisions.”

      “One point of correction I would make to Dustin is that THSC does not work only for Christian home schoolers. While the vast majority of home schoolers are Christian and our Conference reflects that in its speakers and content, our mission is to protect the right of ALL parents to home school and make decisions for their children.”

      “When we receive a call from parents who need help with a conflict with government related to their freedom to home school, we do not ask about their religious beliefs. THSC does not have a requirement for membership related to religious beliefs. While we clearly reflect our Christian belief system, we fight for the right of all parents to direct the education of their children.:

      • Name Withheld says

        Tim, thank you for sharing the email to the atheist.

        While I have no idea of the exact statistics regarding your comment that “the vast majority of homeschoolers are Christians”, I will say that our daughter was withdrawn from school after she came home, sat down to eat dinner, and folded her hands and closed her eyes and began to say “Dear Jesus…”

        We found it was the kindergarten teacher making her class pray before lunch. This not only went against our strong beliefs, but was yet another form of state intervention into our lives. She was taken out after a meeting with the principle who said “well, she can just sit there silently while they pray”.

        I respect the personal opinions of others, so long as they do not affect me or my family. The topics of religion and politics are usually conversations where each party thinks they are right and the other is just stupid, and have no valid reason to be included in school.

        • Tim Lambert says

          Topshooters, the great thing about home schooling is that you as a parent get to decide what is and is not taught in your school. (I think that is where this conversation began.) People can have differing opinions about religion and politics and not consider the other stupid but sometimes those conversations do get heated. We spend a lot of time communicating with elected officials and legislators talking about issues that impact home schoolers and most of those relate to politics in some way or the other and some of them even relate to religious freedom.

          The reason we spend so much time on politics is that the state legislature can, if they choose to do so, limit our rights as parents to home school our children. I know because in the 1980s the state of Texas did exactly that by prosecuting over 100 sets of parents who tried to do what you have done by removing your daughter to teach her at home as you see fit. In those days people were prosecuted regardless of their reason for home schooling. THSC became involved in lobbying, campaigns and politics, etc. in order to protect the right of every parent to make those decisions for their children.

          Therefore, many home school families think that it’s important to teach their children about the way our government works and to be involved in that process (or politics) as part of their school. In public school they call that course of study civics. I think those are valid reasons but you are certainly welcome to your opinion and to direct your home school as you wish and if you have problems with officials related to that, we will be there to help.

    • Jim Loose says

      Hello Name Withheld:

      I hope you will not allow yourself to become unduly concerned. While it is true that the majority of Texas home schoolers are motivated (at least in small part) by their faith, it is also true that hardly anyone is more aware than explicitly Christian home schoolers of the dangers of trying to legislate about faith. Two thousand years of history have taught us what anyone paying real attention to Jesus should not have needed two thousand years to learn: the sword may bring (temporary) compliance with appearances but it cannot bring faith.

      In America, the relation of law to faith is to provide lawful safety to practice faith or not practice faith as each sovereign person believes appropriate for him or herself. Many Christians (myself included) enjoy discussing our faith with people that do not share our faith — but I am sure you would acknowledge happily that discussing and reasoning about faith is far different than attempting to coerce it. I would be delighted to discuss and reason about it with you, personally and privately, if you are so inclined — just email me at jameswloose@yahoo.com

      In the interim please accept my assurance that you and your wife are 100% welcome among the thronging mass of faithful Texas home schoolers :-) — and that they have absolutely no intention to attempt the impossible: use law to impose faith.

      Best wishes and thank you for your forthrightness.

      Jim

      • Name Withheld says

        Jim (and Tim),

        Thank you both for your comments and the different perspective.

        We may have become somewhat jaded after a few comments over the years such as “So you’re willing to risk burning in hell?” and “Your kid is damned because of your beliefs..”

        To further our separation from organized religion are comments still to this day made by the ruling parties of some churches, flat out stating their faiths’ belief that gays should be killed, and like comments.

        While my wife and I are a man and a woman, and neither is gay, hateful remarks made by people who are followed, have pushed us away from any type of organized religion. We refuse to allow anyone else the opportunity to state what being part of their faith means about our own beliefs. We will speak for ourselves, now and in whatever is next.

        You have both been helpful and kind in your comments, and they have been appreciated. I assure you we are not trying to set our child up for failure or deny their individual right to free thought or faith, but we will control the information placed into thier little minds until we deem them mature enough to seek their own path.

        Again, thank you both.

        • Tim Lambert says

          You are not alone in feeling abused by those who disagree with your views. While we may not agree on issues of religion or politics, we have also felt the sting of verbal abuse from those who disagree with our views. Which is why, we strongly support your right as parents to decide what is taught to your child on all issues.

          We too have experienced being told that we were setting our children up for failure and that we were “indoctrinating” them. We rejected those allegations as you obviously have and did the same thing you are doing in directing their education to our beliefs instead of others and I’m happy to report that they are productive citizens who are well adjusted and can think for themselves.

          We wish you success and are always available to help should you have issues with officials related to your freedom to direct the home schooling of your children.

  3. Debbie Campbell says

    Great responses, Mr. Lambert. I am so thankful we have advocates like you speaking out on behalf of homeschoolers of all stripes and persuasions.